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The great hope – Time to build solid foundation for future generations

‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’.  How do you know the truth?  Arm yourselves with knowledge and understanding. Someone once said ‘if you think knowledge is expensive, try ignorance’.  Without knowledge and understanding the truth will most likely be elusive. Many times we are misinformed by those in position of power and influence without us knowing so.

We need to inform ourselves enough to know the difference between being misinformed and being informed by those in power.  Being informed I mean you are given sufficient knowledge that empowers you to sufficiently understand the world around you in order for you to make informed choices.

With this knowledge, you as an individual will be able to discern the truth and take appropriate action.  I have posted a number of articles in this publication and have received overwhelming encouragement to share more. More and more Batswana want to know the truth about their country. I will continue to share as a way of giving back to my fellow citizens. Some will criticise and some will embrace, but, as we begin to engage each other positively we will all learn something from each other and more importantly find ways to help each other.

I stumbled upon a book by some writer, Allen White entitled “The Great Hope’’. I was immediately inspired to write about the great hope I desire for our country and people. The great hope that one day this country will be able to reach its full potential in terms of development. The great hope that one day all our people young and old, rich and poor will be engaged meaningfully in the transformation of their country.

The great hope that one day the rich resources that God has richly bestowed upon this country will be enjoyed fully by all our people. The great hope that one day the leadership will understand that they are servants and not masters of the people. The great hope that one day our leaders will understand that each person has a specific role to play in the development of this country. No one is a mistake! The great hope that our leaders will understand that we are building a foundation for future generations.

 As I went through the pages of this book, my attention was drawn to a chapter entitled “Why there is suffering?” Suffering, what suffering, I asked myself? It donned on me that there is indeed suffering; silent suffering endured every day by many of our people.  This hidden suffering reminded me of a scientific observation that a frog will suffer silently until it dies if it settles in an open bowl of water that is slowly being heated up.

The poor frog does not realise that the water is heating up and now boiling.  It accepts the situation and does not take action until it eventually dies in that situation. The tragedy is that the frog is not aware that it is in a life threatening situation. Many of our people have been made to accept situations similar to that of this frog. They do not have knowledge to understand the grim situations around them and therefore they will not take appropriate action.

Yes, there is suffering! The gross unemployment and under-employment that should have long been eliminated is causing immeasurable suffering. The pain has made some of the unemployed accept the situation as their fate. Many have been removed from the list of the unemployed. We have graduates, educated at a huge cost to nation, who are roaming the streets with nothing meaningful to do. We have interns who are filing and making tea in offices with no prospects for permanent jobs.  We have poverty amongst our people which have been allowed to grow unchecked.

We have suffering in many dark corners of this republic; the elderly, the disabled, the sick in hospitals with inadequate health care systems; the children who walk long distances to school and being taught under trees in bad weather with inadequate clothing; the children whose education condemns them to a life without any prospects for advancement and prosperity; teachers and officers with inadequate accommodation, where more than one family share one small house; the starving wages imposed on the majority of employees! The list is long; our people who are subjected to unfair treatment by authorities because ‘ke bo eseng mang’; corruption, nepotism, favouritism in high places. Yes there is suffering.

The people who are subjected to this suffering eventually, like the frog accept the suffering as normal and ‘die’ or resort to some undesirable means to survive or to endure the suffering.  Only a coherent, selfless, truthful and caring leadership will bring this suffering under control.

This article is meant for deep introspection for our people especially those within the opposition ranks.  I believe God’s plan of hope and prosperity for this nation will be achieved through a united opposition that is God fearing and stands for justice and fair play for all. So it is imperative for them to introspect and build an inclusive, corruption-free formidable force for change.

I now paraphrase and adapt from the chapter entitled ‘why there is suffering’ to buttress my point:

‘Before the entrance of sin in the universe there was peace and joy throughout. Love for God was supreme. Love for one another was impartial. The law of love was the foundation of God’s government. The happiness of all the created beings depended on their acceptance of the principles of justice and righteousness. God took no pleasure in forced allegiance and therefore granted all free will, so that they may render Him voluntary service. Some highly placed son chose to pervert this freedom and sin entered’.

‘Leaving his place in the presence of God, the son went forth to spread discontent amongst the inhabitants of heaven. Mysteriously concealing his real purpose he endeavored to excite dissatisfaction concerning laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that they were unfair and limiting. He urged them to obey only the dictates of their own will. He claimed he was not aiming for self-exaltation but was seeking to secure liberty for all the inhabitants so that they may attain higher level of existence’.

‘He was not moved from his privileged position in heaven, even when he began presenting false claims before the inhabitants. Again and again he was offered pardon on condition of repentance and submission. At first he did not understand the real selfish nature of his actions, but as his dissatisfaction was proved to be unfounded and convinced that the divine claims were true and just, pride forbade him from acknowledging before all heavens and to repent. He instead, resolved that there was no need for repentance and fully committed himself to continued confrontation with his father’.

‘He intensified his deception to secure the sympathy of the inhabitants. All those who did not agree with him; he accused of indifference to the interests of the heavenly beings. It became his policy to manipulate the inhabitants with defiant and subtle arguments concerning the purpose of his father. By artful perversion he cast doubt upon every statement made by his father. His position gave him power and influence and many were induced to unite with him. He remained stubborn and defiant claiming to be an innocent victim. He was eventually banished from heaven for ever’.

I would like to challenge our opposition parties to look at the above probing story closely and ask themselves these questions. Who is responsible for the perpetuation of suffering in our country, the land of bountiful resources?  What should be done now to get our people out of this suffering? I would like the leadership in particular and the members in general to look in the mirror and see if there are not partly or entirely responsible for this suffering.

Have we not deviated from the cause to liberate our people? Have we not allowed ourselves as individuals to be used, misled and made to turn against each other by cunningly undermining one another and claiming undeserved supremacy like the son in the story? Are we honest and not pursuing selfish interests at the expense of our people? How long has this been going on?  Are there any irreconcilable differences within the opposition ranks or are there only personal differences and preferences that have taken centre stage? We need to reconcile our artificial differences and become one big force for change. We should not get to a point where some are ‘banished forever’.

We need to collectively get our people to understand the issues around them to avoid being easily manipulated by those self-seeking individuals who want power at any cost. Hitler once said, ‘if you tell lies all the time eventually people will accept these lies as truths’.  RB, BTV and Botswana daily newspaper are used as government propaganda machines meant to prevent the real suffering in the country from being revealed.

These government news agencies are micromanaged to report in such a way that makes it appear that the government is caring, does not have adequate resources and uses the available resources prudently to serve its citizens. The president goes around the country at the expense of the nation giving out blankets, radios, houses and soup. Our people need self-sustaining programs not sympathy from the president. We know the country has unmatched resources in the region and these resources are used corruptly by the privileged few. The false picture presented to the unsuspecting public and the international community severely compromises the reality on the ground.

It is therefore important that all those who can see through this musk, must work together to fight the injustices imposed on our people. Working together will have the desired effect of getting more with less! The financial, the manpower and the intellectual capacity will multiply. The reach to our people will be much wider and deeper. The support from local and international interests will multiply.

The ability to remove the musk for the truth and the reality to be seen will be magnified.  

The elections are gone and the people have spoken and spoken very clearly. True leaders have heard the people and will honour their voice. Those in the opposition ranks who want to justify a so called ‘multiparty’ democracy are missing the point. Batswana have spoken and want one voice against the ruling party. This one voice is the voice of the government in waiting.

The 801,000 people who did not vote will only vote to support a ‘two’ party democracy. With our small population, it is naive to be divided into small parties. It is even more naive to expect their vote to make any difference in the outcome the election especially with these parties are selling the same election package. Have it ever occurred to you that the multiplicity of parties was meant to allow the ruling party to be kept in power forever? It is the old ‘divide and rule’ dictum that has worked to keep the one party a perpetual winner. These people are saying, ‘swallow your pride, work together and we will support you.’

In closing, only those leaders, blinded by their own desire for top leadership positions will continue to advocate for divisions within the opposition ranks, despite the loud voice coming from the electorate.  It is time for the opposition to come together as one, fight as one, speak with one voice for the sole purpose of truly liberating our people from the shackles of the current misguided government and for building a solid foundation for future generations.

Email: bernard.busani@ Cell: 71751440

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The Taiwan Question: China ramps up military exercises to rebuff US provocations

18th August 2022

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan has violated the One-China policy, and caused the escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Experts and political observers across the spectra agree that Pelosis actions and subsequent pronouncements by US President Joe Biden gave impetus to an already simmering tension in the Taiwan Strait, provoking China to strengthen its legitimate hold on the Taiwan Strait waters, which the US and Taiwan deem as international waters.

Pelosis visit to Chinas Taiwan region has been heavily criticised across the globe, with China arguing that this is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US Joint Communiqus. In response to this reckless move which seriously undermined China’s sovereignty, and interfered in China’s internal affairs, the expectation is for China to give a firm response. Pelosi visit violated the commitments made by the U.S. side, and seriously jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

To give context to Chinas position over Taiwan region, the history behind gives us perspective. It is also important to note that the history between China and Taiwan is well documented and the US has always recognized it.

The Peoples Republic of China recognises Taiwan as its territory. It has always been the case even before the Nationalist Republic of China government fled to the previously Japanese-ruled Island after losing the civil war on the mainland in 1949. According to literature that threat was contained for decades first with a military alliance between the US and the ROC on Taiwan, and after Washington switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979 by the US One China policy, which acknowledges Beijings position that Taiwan is part of One China. Effectively, Taiwans administration was transferred to the Republic of China from Japan after the Second World War in 1945, along with the split between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) as a consequence of the Chinese Civil War. Disregarding this history, as the US is attempting to do, will surely initiate some defence reaction on the side of China to affirm its sovereignty.

However, this history was undermined since Taiwan claimed to democratise in the 1990s and China has grown ever more belligerent. Furthermore, it is well documented that the Biden administration, following the Trump presidency, has made subtle changes in the way it deals with Taipei, such as loosening restrictions on US officials meeting Taiwanese officials this should make China uneasy. And while the White House continues to say it does not support Taiwanese independence, Bidens words and actions are parallel to this pledge because he has warned China that the US would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan another statement that has provoked China.

Pelosi, in her private space, would know that her actions amount to provocation of China. This act of aggression by the USA seriously undermines the virtues of sovereignty and territorial integrity which has a huge potential to destabilize not only the Taiwan Strait but the whole of the Asia- Pacific region. The Americans know very well that their provocative behavior is deliberately invoking the spirit of separatism masqueraded as Taiwan independence. The US is misled to think that by supporting separatism of Taiwan from China that would give them an edge over China in a geopolitics. This is what one Chinese diplomat said this week: The critical point is if every country put their One-China policy into practice with sincerity, with no compromise, is going to guarantee the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, it was in the wake of US House speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan, that China, in a natural response revealed plans for unprecedented military exercises near the island, prompting fears of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait and the entire Asia-Pacific region. The world community must promote and foster peace, this may be achieved when international laws are respected. It may also happen when nations respect the sovereignty of another. China may be in a better space because it is well capacitated to stake its territorial integrity, what about a small nation, if this happens to it?

As to why military exercises by Beijing; it is an expected response because China was provoked by the actions of Pelosi. To fortify this position, Chinese President, Xi signed a legal basis for Chinas Peoples Liberation Army to safeguard Chinas national sovereignty, security and development interests. The legal basis will also allow military missions around disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping. In addition the legal changes would allow troops to prevent spillover effects of regional instabilities from affecting China, secure vital transport routes for strategic materials like oil, or safeguard Chinas overseas investments, projects and personnel. It then follows that President Xis administration cannot afford to look weak under a US provocation. President Xi must protector Chinas sovereignty and territorial integrity, of which Taiwan is a central part. Beijing is very clear on One-China Policy, and expects all world players to recognize and respect it.

The Peoples Liberation Army has made it clear that it has firepower that covers all of Taiwan, and it can strike wherever it wants. This sentiments have been attributed to Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA Navy Research Institute. Zheng further said, We got really close to Taiwan. We encircled Taiwan. And we demonstrated that we can effectively stop intervention by foreign forces. This is a strong reaction from China to warn the US against provocation and violation of the One-China Policy.

Beijings military exercises will certainly shake Taiwans confidence in the sources of its economic and political survival. The potential for an effective blockade threatens the air and shipping routes that support Taiwans central role in global technology supply chains. Should a humanitarian situation arise in Taiwan, the blame would squarely be on the US.

As Chinas military exercises along the Taiwan Strait progress and grow, it remains that the decision by Nancy Pelosi to visit Chinas Taiwan region gravely undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sent a wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces. This then speaks to international conventions, as the UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres explicitly stressed that the UN remains committed to the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. The centerpiece is the one-China principle, namely, there is but one China in the world, the government of the Peoples Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is a part of China. It must be noted that the US and the US-led NATO countries have selectively applied international law, this has been going on unabated. There is a plethora of actions that have collapsed several states after they were attacked under the pretext of the so-called possession of weapons of mass destruction illuminating them as threats – and sometimes even without any valid reason. to blatantly launch military strikes and even unleash wars on sovereign countrie

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Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswanas democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogaes assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in theBulela Ditswedispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswewas an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties ruling and opposition have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumers piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswanas, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they dont imagine that their one download will do anything to the production houses pocket or make a dent in the actors net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musicians music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth.

As Botswanas creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africas respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswanas economy are being diverted.

Why cant our local creative industry grow? Why dont we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana? are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswanas local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the countrys economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, its imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economys growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artists music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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